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Issues paper

  1. 1. Running head: SECURITY AND SAFETY AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES SECURITY AND SAFETY AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES Christopher Jones EDU 719 Salem State University Instructor: Kathleen M. Neville, EdD
  2. 2. SECURITY AND SAFETY AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES 2 Abstract This paper will take an in depth look at security and safety procedures at the community college (C.C.) level. With the use of six published articles from The Chronicle of Higher Education, and one from the American School and University, June 2011 edition, I will explore the history of security within (C.C.), pressing issues, different degrees of security, and new improvements associated with campus safety and security. Kennedy (2011) discusses some gradual security changes being implemented on college campuses and also states how the federal government has responded to security issues since 9/11. I will summarize the articles and comment on certain points that I agree and disagree with and give some alternative approaches to the issues of safety on community college campuses. My intent with this analysis is to raise awareness regarding safety on the campuses of community colleges and hopefully touch upon some other important issues that currently exist in two year institutions. Keywords: Security, Crises Situation, Safety, Community College (C.C.)
  3. 3. SECURITY AND SAFETY AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES 3 The history and evolution of community colleges have been challenging and unique in terms of its place in higher education. Forty years ago when community colleges were just opening, the reputation was not as favorable as one might have imagined. Bauman (2007), stated that, “Community Colleges were invisible to him in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s”. C.C. campuses were located in remote areas, housed in poor settings, and lacked strong organization and direction. The term “Open Admissions” was trumpeted as the great democratizer for members of minority groups, women returning to college, and students who had barely made it through high school or received their GED certificates (Bauman 2007). Basically, the two year institutions attracted the types of students and clients that were viewed as most likely to fail regarding higher education and receiving a college degree. Junior colleges to this day have always been less expensive to attend and less demanding to get accepted into because they are predominately commuter schools. Many of these institutions only require that an incoming freshman only possess a high school diploma or GED certification.Another device used to keep cost down is that students that attend these institutions do not live in residential dormitory halls on campus, therefore exempting them from the forever rising fees for room and board.With the public community college’s inexpensive price tags to attend and relatively low requirement criteria for acceptance, the institutions attracted many students from poor economic backgrounds and low income areas. When individuals come from poverty stricken neighborhoods, public safety and security usually become an issue.
  4. 4. SECURITY AND SAFETY AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES 4 Financial resources or lack thereof, have always been associated with two year public institutions. For years, directors of colleges have bemoaned their understaffed offices and lack of money (Farrell 2008). The pressing issues of public safety and security on the campuses of C.C. have become a major topic of discussion for junior college administrators. The reports of a random student with a record of mental health problems going on a killing rampage have recently monopolized the media (Farrell 2008). Ever since the Virginia Tech. tragedy, where 32 students and professors were gunned down, college administrators nationwide have been increasing financial resources into public safety departments to prevent any similar incidences. Emergency –alert systems and crisis-management plans have been reinforced, but some college officials are questioning how to handle the increasing number of at risk students (Farrell 2008). According to some directors of college health centers, more students are coming into these public institutions of higher education with pre-existing psychological problems (Farrell 2008). Increased cases of depression, social anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, anger- management and self-injury are common plagues and lenders of crimes and other violent acts. With the economic uncertainties, job losses, lack of employment opportunitiesand overalldesperation within our society, students and administrators are becoming more and more concernedwith security andsafety on college campuses.Unfortuneatly, inadequate mental-health resources at colleges are still the norm. The International Association of Counceling
  5. 5. SECURITY AND SAFETY AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES 5 Services, a nonprofit accrediting organization, recommends that colleges have a ratio of one councelor per every 1,500 full time student (Farrell 2008). According to 2007 data, the current ratio is onecouncelor per 1,969 students. Another challenge that students face at C.C. is the dwindling health-insurance coverage for counceling. Because of the elevated number of cases, students are limited in terms of how many visits they are allowed to see the professionals for treatment. These reports are staggering, and also explains why safety and security are always a popular topic of discussion within college campuses. As the economy continues on itsdownwardspiral, the incidents of crimes and thefts seem to be steadily increasing all over thecountry. One place wheretheft and robberies seem to be inflating is on the college and universitycampuses in the United States. According to Sergeant Bobby Barrows, Director of Public Safety atBunker Hill Community College inBoston, MA, “student crimes are up 10% from 2010 to 2011” (B. Barrows, personal communication, December 6, 2011). Improving security on college campuses is becoming more of a priority with institutions ofHigher Education, than ever before. The mission is simple, if students feel safe attending theinstitution, then everything from student participation to enrollment will improve and increase. The student shootings at Virginia Technical University, and the massacre in Blacksburg were also major events that made national news headlines, and ultimately forced various organizations to take a closer look and revamp their security policies.
  6. 6. SECURITY AND SAFETY AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES 6 Securities within institutions of higher education before 911 for the most part were very relaxed and casual when it came to student safety issues. Many universities and colleges possessed a general emergency plan, but a lot of them were inadequate to deal with the range of situations that an education institution could face. Public Safety departments were poorly funded, and lacked resources and equipment to operate properly. Patrol men on many college campuses were not viewed as protectors of the law and given the respect that a police officer deserves, but merely referred to as something much less. Since 9/11, and Virginia Tech. events, public safety departments among colleges have made significant changes. Thosebrutal attacks shook many from their state of complacency, and brought about drastic change in the security steps on university campuses. Ellis (2010) analyzes and states that, because of what occurred with those events, “the subject of security has been a continuation of evolving emphasis”. Improvements in security and emergency preparedness have gradually grown over the last decade. Institutions now have put some teeth into instructions and rules to follow in case of an emergency/crisis situation. The most notable change to emerge was the creation of a cabinet-level agency to oversee security-the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) (Kennedy 2010).
  7. 7. The (USDHS) developed a unique six point system called the National Incident Management System (NIMS) which provides a structured approach for governmental and non- governmental organizations to respond to emergencies. Several colleges and universities have SECURITY AND SAFETY AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES 7 adopted and implemented this management system which includes components of Preparedness, Resource Management, Communications and Information Management etc. According to higher education officials, communication is perhaps the most fundamental component when dealing with a crises situation. The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 requires colleges and universities to have procedures in place to immediately notify campus community officials in case of an emergency (Ellis 2010). Notifying students, staff, and administration in today’s society has never been easier. With the aid of technology, students and other staff members can be contacted through text messages, e- mails, cable television networks, radio broadcast, and twitter. To help to assure safety many institutions are doing all they can to combat this growing problem. At the University of California at Davis and George Mason University, in Virginia counceling centers are conducting workshops called “The Distressed and Distressing Student” (Farrell 2008). Other alternative approaches to respond to this issue of safety is counseling centers are adding new staff members and increasing operating budgets. According to the annual survey, the Association of University and College Counseling Center Directors institutions have increased their staff by 15% (Farell 2008). Texas A& M and the University of Kentucky, have been using a suicide-
  8. 8. prevention training program called “QPR” – which stands for “Question, Persuade, Refer” (Farell 2008). SECURITY AND SAFETY AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES 8 Perhaps the newest alternative approach to improving campus safety and securityis the implementation of degree training and certificate programs at community colleges. Two year institutions across the country are now offering courses in counterterrorism. Included in these programs are courses that specifically train students in security and safety such as, “Emergency Planning & Security Measures” at Corinthian Community College. Since 2003, Texas State Community College has offered a 12-course certificate program in homeland defense (Bartlett 2003). Kaplan Colleges online college offers a certificate in “Terrorism and National Security Management” since April 2002 (Bartlett 2003). Because security and safety is such a relevant subject in today’s society, the community colleges are really able to seize the moment and kill two birds with one stone. By offering these types of courses, degree programs, and certificates, these institutions are helping their enrollment and student population and bringing in additional funding to meet operational needs. Community Colleges are also contributing to the nation by training young students about the importance of campus and homeland security. In my opinion, Community Colleges are the beneficiaries of a failing economy. Two year institutions are in a position to really take advantage of some unique opportunities in academia. As the cost of four year schools continue to sky rocket, the two year college prices remain resoanable and affordable for most working
  9. 9. class families and students. Students are starting to understand that if they attend a Junior College for two years and receive an Associates Degree or earn enough credits to transfer to a SECURITY AND SAFETY AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES 9 four institution, then they can literally cut their cost by 50% or more and still earn their undergraduate degree from that four year institution.With the improvement and revampment of programs many studednts are opting after graduation, not to attend a four year university or college immediately, but instead to enter the work force because they may have a solid entry level position with a particular company waiting for them. With these new measures in place, and the level of awareness raised, campuses should see improvement across the board at community colleges. The mission statement for Bunker Hill Community College is, “BHCC is an equal opportunity institution for all ethnicities and cultures that provides a quality, affordable education for all students”, (BHCC Catalog, 2011). For years BHCC and other community colleges were viewed as institutions that didn’t quite meet college standards, or referred to as the thirteenth grade, now with its many new relevant programs the college along with so many others have earned their respect. Segregated for so long, community colleges have grown into something no one expected – themselves (Bauman 2007). That is their greatest strength, for they truly reflect our culture and society of today’s world.
  10. 10. SECURITY AND SAFETY AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES 10 Conclusion Although I found my articles interesting, I thought one author gave more concrete information on security improvements regarding secondary schools and not enough information regarding colleges and universities (Kennedy 2011). (Kennedy 2011) researched and reported some very useful findings about University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and how they use certain tools to alert the masses on their campus in case of an emergency, which I agree with. However, none of the authors mentioned the use of Facebook as a form of communication to enhance security and safety as a recommended approach to this issue. Facebook is perhaps the most popular form of communication among college students today. I would like to see more two year and four year colleges use this form of technology to help with security and safety issues. Also, more financial resources and additional staffing would aid with combating safety issues. Staffing, in my opinion is the key to a lot of the security and safety issues that exist in higher education. I think it is next to impossible to ask a limited staff to monitor and police a student body of thousands of immature college students. The public safety departments are vastly out numbered from the beginning, not to mention students that
  11. 11. come in to theses institutions with pre-existing cases. As long as the students out number public safety divisions, the problems are only going to continue. SECURITY AND SAFETY AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES 11 I would have liked to have seen a compare and contrast of security implementations among various colleges, and then afullreportonnewmethodsandstrategiesthatwassuccessfuland unsuccessful. Overall, interesting articles.
  12. 12. SECURITY AND SAFETY AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES 12 References Kennedy, M. (2011). School Security After 9/11. American School and University School Security, pages 19-23. Rikleen, L. (2007). Virginia Tech: The Challenge of Assuring Safety. The Chronicle Review, Volume 53, Issue 36. Bauman, G. (2007). The Double Consciousness of Community Colleges.Community Colleges, Volume 54, Issue 9. Farrell, E. (2008). The Public Colleges Lack Funds to Help Troubled Students. The Chronicle of Higher Education, Volume 53, Issue 7. Bartlett, T. (2003).Degrees of Security. Archives, The Chronicle of Higher Ed, Volume 49, Issue 31.